Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Foundling Hospital, Women, Babies and Fabric

Without question I have a few themes weaved into to my soul that I think are a part of me from the beginning of time : Women and textiles. Sounds strange, but I love them both and somehow they come together at so many crossroads, many out of complete necessity and need and the other for beauty. I was directed to this story from Janet Gleave, my dear friend. I'm so grateful she thought I would be interested.

In 1741 Thomas Coram a philanthropic childless sea captain opened a “Foundling Hospital” in London for babies up to one year old. The requirement for entrance was simple, that the mother was single and unable to take care of the child. The mother’s hope was that she would come back for the child when her circumstances improved, something that rarely happened.

What does this have to do with fabric? When the mother left their wee one at the hospital in order to identify their child on their return they would leave a swatch of fabric that they would match up later (most could not write, but fabric was something everyone had access to). This collection of swatches has become the largest textile collection the world has to offer. The Foundling Hospital was open for 213 years.

You can view a few of these precious pieces by going to the online exhibit called Threads of Feeling. Look to see that each piece of cloth are all different depending on the station in life where the mother came from- rough, thick cloth to delicate embrodiary. Notice the music in the background, it wasn’t lost on me- it is a song that was sung in the 1780’s. I needed a tissue . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We Do Hard Things

Today in sacrament meeting one of the speakers talked about the statement “We Do Hard Things”. I loved the visual he gave of a sign in a home where every time a family member said the task was too hard (homework, taking the garbage out, reading the scriptures, etc) all anyone would have to do is point to the sign --- WE DO HARD THINGS.

In our family we do really do hard things and will continue to do hard things. Life is a journey that is about-facing each day with what it brings you with courage and an attitude of strength and resiliency. I have been amazed at the letters we’ve gotten from Thomas week after week these last 10 months. Somewhere he learned how to do hard things. I could give examples for each of my children, rather I want to express the gratitude that they did learn, somehow, some way (even without a sign hanging up) when things get hard they keep going and I’m so grateful because life is always going to throw you a curve ball and it’s all about how you play the game.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Leaf Quilt, Warming Generations

This week at quilt group I was asked to bring an “antique” quilt to show the group. I asked my Mother if I could borrow one of my favorite quilts that she has on display year round. It was a wedding gift, made by my father’s mother, Rosella Calder Smith. My parents were married late in the summer of 1956. The choice of the leaf pattern was perfect for the occasion in many respects. Grandma had someone do the machine appliqué (sadly we don’t have her name), but we have every confidence that she did the piecing, layout and hand quilting herself.

This quilt has been used from the very beginning of my parent’s marriage and right on through raising five children. My Dad remembers using it to stay warm in basement apartments while going to school at Utah State and my Mother said she would use it for just about every possible need where a warm quilt would come in handy. For me, I can’t remember ever not having the “leaf quilt” in my life. If we were sick, in body or soul this quilt was always around to warm us up.

When I took the quilt to QQQ’s our very own Quilt Historian, Jeanne Fetzer was there and looked it over. Here is her report-

· The fabrics are from the 1920’s and 30’s and likely purchased from the Montgomery & Ward Catalog, possibly in bundles

· The primary color used was “Nile Green”, common to the period

· It was quilted with a wool bat, easier for needling

· Hand quilted, machine appliquéd

· Gave instructions for how to care for it (her recommendation was to just leave it be and not worry about the red stains, treat it extra special and not to fold it on top of its self)

I hadn’t realized how much I loved this quilt until I took the time to write about it. I think it might be one of my favorite objects in the world. Thank you Mom for letting me borrow it, more than that, thanks for letting us use your treasure while we were growing up.